Impacts of Wake Boats and Best Practices

The popularity of wake sports has been on the rise over the past several years and with it the number of “wake boats” operating on lakes. Whether wake boarding or wake surfing, these boats are designed to produce large waves. Hull shape, ballast tanks, adjustable plates, and horse power are some of the technologies used. These waves are often equal to or greater than most major storm events which can increase shoreline erosion. Unlike old school/conventional “ski” boats which typically push thrust parallel to the water’s surface, wake boats tend to push thrust at a downward angle and therefore have a greater potential to disrupt bottom sediments in addition to shoreline eroding shoreline.

There is a shortage of research on the impact of wake boats on lakes however recent studies suggest that larger waves may increase the potential for shoreline erosion and deeper thrust may disrupt/resuspend sediments at the lake bottom.

PLM guidelines to mitigate adverse effects to our lake:
Waves decrease in size the longer they travel. Therefore, PLM recommends operation of wake boats at least 500 ft from shore whenever possible.

Studies conducted on different wake boat models suggest that thrust (depending on the trim angle) will typically reach a depth of ~12 feet.  PLM recommends that wake boats be operated in depths greater than 12 ft whenever possible.

When using wakeboats on BWL it is important to note that our lake has unique bathymetry with shallow submerged islands offshore. Native plants that grow on these submerged islands become uprooted by wake boats. When this happens, the uprooted vegetation form floating mats that wash up along shore creating a nuisance for residents. Therefore, even if you are “offshore” please be aware of these shallow areas and avoid when possible.

Please be aware of potential effects on our lake and adapt your  boating practices to minimize impacts.

BWL Lake Ecology and Safe Boating

Let’s continue to enjoy our lake waters safely and responsibly!

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